10 May 2001
Gill launches Union manifesto
By FWi staff
THE National Farmers Union has launched its election manifesto, urging the next government to work with farmers to get the industry back on its feet.
The document details facts about agriculture for prospective Parliamentary candidates so politicians better understand the plight of farmers.
Foot-and-mouth has struck an industry already on its knees after years of plummeting farm incomes since the last election, said NFU president Ben Gill.
“We are determined that some good will come out of this disaster. The whole industry in a state of turmoil,” he said.
Many farmers are expected to be forced out of the industry in the wake of foot-and-mouth. Others face having to rebuild their businesses from scratch.
Mr Gill said: “We stand ready to work with the next government to develop a more sustainable farming industry in the future.
“This manifesto sets out our vision for how this can be achieved.”
Farm incomes have fallen by almost two-thirds since the last election, while borrowings have soared to 10 billion and 59,000 people have left the industry.
The manifesto stresses that farmers have already tried to lessen the pressures they face through improved marketing, controlling costs and diversifying.
The launch of the British Farm Standard little red tractor logo in summer 2000 is a key example of these efforts, said Mr Gill.
The manifesto calls on the next government to play a major role by promoting and encouraging farmers and growers entrepreneurial spirit.
It urges the next government reform the Common Agricultural Policy to promote better returns from the market place and a more efficient agriculture.
Mr Gill added: “Since the last election, British farmers and growers have faced the worst times they, their parents and even their grandparents can remember.
“This next election will be critical in the history of the industry,” he said.
“We know that working with government, we can meet the nations demands for high quality food, a beautiful countryside and healthy environment.”
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